In a surprise move, Heathrow begins to develop cargo community

Dutch road feeder specialist, Jan de Rijk will participate in the pilot of Heathrow’s load-matching app.

Today, Heathrow Airport took a major step towards developing an airport cargo community with the introduction of the ‘Heahtrow CargoCloud’.  Next month, the airport will test the waters for cargo community participation by piloting a load consolidation app developed by Belgium-based data sharing platform, Nallian (which also powers Brussels Airport’s BRUCloud and Port of Antwerp’s NxtPort).

Although once unique to just a few airports, the airport cargo community concept is beginning to catch on, even at airports where it has previously been considered impossible – like at Heathrow. This is an important trend for all stakeholders in the air freight industry to follow, because the cargo community concept offers an alternative approach and potential solutions to improving the value proposition, reliability, and efficiency of the air freight mode of transportation through collaboration.

Just one year ago, management at Heathrow saw little chance of a cargo community developing at the UK’s largest air freight gateway. In May 2016, Nick Platts, head of cargo at LHR spoke at a Multimodal event in Birmingham where he completely dismissed the possibility a cargo community forming in the near-term. “No one talks to each other in the UK. There is no collaboration.” Although Platts personally supported the concept, at the time he saw no evidence of a community forming.

Fast-forward ahead to the present, and that is about to change. Starting next month, shippers, freight forwarders and trucking companies will begin piloting a load matching app which matches loads to spare capacity. If the app gains traction, and stakeholders actively participate, the potential to improve load factors, reduce the number of cargo trucks on the road around Heathrow, and ultimately reduce transportation costs for forwarders is huge.

The long-term implications are potentially greater, as cargo communities offer stakeholders the ability to unite around initiatives without “wearing the hat” of a single function in the supply chain. If trucking companies attempt to pursue a traffic-reduction initiative without participation from shippers and freight forwarders, it would be nearly impossible. Uniting multiple parties around a cloud-based community, and allowing them to securely share data and collaborate, however, is a much more promising approach. And all stakeholders stand to gain. After all, trucking companies want higher load factors, freight forwarders want cheaper rates, and the shipper wants faster service at the best possible price.

But load-matching is only the first app, there are dozens of other initiatives which similar apps could begin to tackle. Think about e-commerce. Scheduled cargo carriers salivate over the volumes generated through e-commerce platforms, but then they sit on the sidelines as most of the traffic is siphoned off into integrator and postal networks. Many of the resources an integrator has access to are present at many of the world’s major air cargo gateways, though the companies that control them are fragmented, and operate independently of one another. Cargo communities could better unite these resources.

Those interested in learning more about how cargo communities are cooperating to deliver quality, are invited to join us at this year’s Cargo Facts Symposium, to be held 2-4 October, at the Ritz-Carlton on Miami’s South Beach. Speakers from various links in the chain will join a panel discussion which will explore challenges associated with establishing an airport cargo community, as well as the potential benefits of doing so. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactssymposium.com

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